Great Reviews (Thank you!) and the Question of Contentment

I've found four great reviews of Gifted. Thank you so much to those of you who have bought it, who are reading it or have read it and have left such nice reviews. You can take a look at them here and here. I'm so glad it is reaching people.

So here's a question for you. Is contentment a good thing or a bad thing?

Most of my life I've thought of contentment as something desirable, something calm and zen-like people managed to achieve no matter their circumstances. I've wanted to be content and a few times in my life I have been.

But what about those times when we don't feel content? We feel restless and dissatisfied. We long for something we don't have. What about then?

This weekend I was told that if I'm not content, it's probably because I need to repent of something or I'm being selfish. If I quit thinking of myself and repent, I'll feel contentment.

I'd like to whole-heartedly agree... and respectfully disagree. I think there are times when that restless, longing, and even unhappy feeling of discontentment might very well be remedied with a good dose of service and some prayerful repentence. I also think there are times when discontentment presses down on us for other reasons. Maybe we're being gently (or roughly) nudged by something deep in us to strive for something more. Maybe we have dreams and goals that compel us forward. Perhaps we need to improve the condition of our homes, or our educations, our careers or our relationships.

If we ignore that persistent feeling of discontent, we might allow ourselves to become satisfied with things that should be better.

Maybe sometimes contentment is a beautiful, peaceful, pleasant place to be. But maybe sometimes contentment is a flim flam man, tricking us out of pursuing what will make us the happiest. And the most content.

Casting My Life

I read a funny blog posting the other day that posed the question, "If you could cast any actress/actor as you and your significant other, who would you cast?" As you can see, this is not a post about life-altering things. I'll just admit it now--this is a shallow blog posting. But it's amusing to think about.

A few years ago, there was a computer program that would let you download a photograph and then it would list your celebrity look-alikes. If we're going by the best matches on that program, I would be played by Queen Latifah and my husband would be played by Jay Leno. A rather odd marriage, I think.

The Jay Leno thing is very real. You might remember many years ago when Jay Leno was the spokesman for Doritos. Travis and I were miniature golfing with some friends when a little boy pointed at Travis and in a voice that carried through most of the golf course said, "Look Mom, it's the Doritos guy."

Queen Latifah is a little harder to figure. I guess it's the curly hair (although she usually wears hers straight) and the big lips. I don't know. I think she's pretty and she even had a series of Cover Girl commercials, so I'll just run with it.

But who would I choose to play me if I were casting myself in a movie? I think I'd have to go with Julia Roberts. I know, I know. I'm dreaming. But no one said it had to be realistic and even though I think Jennifer Connelly is the most beautiful actress around, I think Julia Roberts is a little more relatable.

Casting Travis was a little harder because I've decided not to worry one little bit about whether or not they capture the real Travis. I'm just thinking about actors I could look at for a long, long time. I'm the one doing the casting, after all. If he were, he'd probably have stuck with Jennifer Connelly to play me. I was torn between a Last of the Mohicans Daniel Day Lewis, a trench-coat-wearing Matthew MacFadyen or Joseph Fiennes. I went with Joseph Fiennes because I think the DDL of Last of the Mohicans would have trouble fitting into modern society and because I need to reserve the meadow scene for my dreams. I don't really feel like I'm settling, however. Just look at Joseph Fiennes.

So there's my cast. Now, what should I fix for dinner?

(Oh, and feel free to share who you'd cast as yourself and your significant other.)

The Little Details

This conversation took place on the way to school a few weeks ago:

Joe: Mom, I've got my life all figured out except the little details. Want to hear it?

Me: Sure.

Joe: Okay. I'm going to graduate from CR Elementary, then from MR junior high and then from LP high. Then I'm going on a mission and then I'll play basketball for BYU. Then I'll play in the NBA.

Me: Do you think you'll be tall enough?

Joe: John Stockton wasn't very tall and he played in the NBA. He just worked really hard. I'll work really hard, too. I can do it.

So that's his life. Except for the little details. Little details like who he'll marry and where he'll live. Little details like what kind of family he'll have and what he'll do in the church.

When I think of little details, I think more along the lines of what to have for dinner, what book to read next, how many loads of laundry need done. But I guess its all in your perspective. Some little details probably get way too much attention while other little details don't get enough. Maybe it's time to really think about them and spend more time dwelling on the little details that matter.

So instead of obsessing over whether the stairs get vacuumed today I'll concentrate on doing something fun with my kids.

Instead of trying to find the missing episode of Top Chef that was replaced last week with a version of The Housewives of ... I'll just be grateful that I have normal wrinkles around my eyes and the lips I was born with instead of those scary caricature features I saw for a couple of minutes as I fast-forwarded through the show in search of my favorite chef.

Instead of worrying that people will feel sorry for me when I'm sitting alone in Costco doing a book signing, I'll remind myself that I have a book for sale. One I actually wrote and am really proud of.

Instead of stressing out about my clothes being a bigger size than I wish they were, I'll try to remember that I'm healthy and that about the only thing I can't do that I always wished I could is a really straight cartwheel.

Instead of obsessing about how to get my hair cut, I'll spend time enjoying the little detail of having family and friends that I enjoy and am thankful for.

My life is filled with little details. Some don't matter at all. Some make my life so much better. And some I don't know if I could live without.

You're Invited to a Party!!!


You're Invited to the Release Party for my new book, Gifted.
Address: 4014 Sawgrass, Cedar Hills, UT
Day and Time: Monday, February 7, 2011, 6-9 p.m.
Signed books available for sale at a pre-release discount.
Games, prizes & refreshments.
Reading from book and Q&A at 7:30.
Please bring friends, family, or your entire book club group! Everyone is invited!
Thanks, Shannon and Marsha, for hosting this. I'm honored!
I hope to see many old friends and meet many new ones. Come on out and say hi!

Irony

I was lucky in some ways. My teeth were pretty straight. The only real problem was that I had a very noticeable gap between my two front teeth. This bothered me, but since we didn't have orthodontic insurance, it was decided that a space between the two front teeth wasn't worth the investment for braces. I lived with that decision, but was still self-conscious about the gap.

When I was fifteen my friend, Julie, got braces. I'm not sure who came up with the idea, but she gave me some of her bands and I began my own self-administered orthodontic program. I began wearing a band around the two front teeth. It was a painful process, but slowly my two teeth came together and I had a straight, un-gapped smile I was pretty proud of.

The problem was that within a few weeks of removing the band, my teeth began to shift back to their original position. Back came the band. I went through this process a couple of painful times. One day, while wearing the bands, my baby brother reared back, as babies sometimes do, and hit me in the mouth with his head. I felt like those two teeth were going to drop right out of their sockets. The pain was awful. I decided at that moment that if my teeth weren't going to stay put, it wasn't worth the hassle and the agony.

A little over a year ago, I was flossing my teeth and realized that my two front teeth had come together. No braces. No bands. But somehow they now touched. My teeth looked straight and spaceless. All I'd ever had to do was wait a few decades and the problem was solved.

Then last fall, on the front page of MSN I found this. Now a space between the teeth is considered beautiful, even desired. A whole crew of gap-toothed beauties are walking the runways and starring in movies.

And my space is gone.

The Beauty of Silence

A few years ago, we took a trip to Hawaii. As usual, Travis researched activities we could enjoy while we were there. One of the things he found was a discount coupon for parasailing. If you know Travis, you know he can sniff out a bargain from a hundred miles away. When he told me what he'd found, I resisted. I'm afraid of heights. The thought made me a little sick. "The rest of us will do it and if you don't want to, you don't have to," he assured me.

I stood on the deck of the cruiseship the morning of our excursion and I watched the parasailers and wondered if I could do it. I wanted to. I wanted to share that experience with my family. As I looked across the gorgeous water at the colorful sails that seemed suspended in the blue sky, I decided I'd do it. No matter how afraid I was, I'd do it.

Travis and Joe went first followed by Bruce and Veronica. Savannah and I were last. My legs were shaky and I had trouble breathing as the guide buckled us in. He tried to say something to me but I couldn't hear him. The boat engine was roaring and my heart was pounding in my ears. Too soon the boat was moving in front of us and we were climbing into the air. Soon the boat looked like a toy in the distance. The water sparkled beneath us. The sky was a more beautiful blue than I could ever remember seeing.

And it was quiet. I thought I'd hear the sail flapping in the wind. I thought I'd hear the boat engine. I didn't. It was silent and peaceful and lovely. I didn't feel afraid. I was sad when our turn was over and they began to shorten the line and the boat got closer.

Today I gathered with extended family to visit with my uncle who was diagnosed with cancer this week. He told of the first night he found out and the fear he felt. He'd wake up in his hospital room and feel a sense of panic and fear about what was coming. He worried about his family and whether or not he could face the hard things ahead.

In a moment of prayerful silence came peace. Along with that peace came the words to a hymn... Sweet is the peace the gospel brings. He felt calm and strong and even healthy. The peace that came in that silent moment of prayer will help get him through whatever lies ahead.

In those silent times we can think. Ideas can form. Feelings can be considered. Problems can be contemplated. Prayers can be answered.

I love sound--music, movies, laughter. I love talking with people I care about.

But sometimes, the most beautiful thing in the world is silence

It's Here!

Today a dream I've had for a long time came true. The story I wrote is now a real, hold-it-in-your-hands and turn-the-pages book. And it's beautiful. I couldn't be happier or more excited. We're on track for the February 8 release. Maybe I'll be able to see many of you at book signings in the next few months, even though that part seems a little scary. (Okay, a lot scary.)

But for tonight I won't worry about all that. Tonight I'm just going to enjoy looking at it.

And the Lucky Number Is...

59.

Congratulations to LaDawn. Your signed book will be on its way soon.

The Trailer for Gifted and a Giveaway



Thanks to Mark, who produced this beautiful trailer for my book. I hope it makes you as excited about my book coming out as I am. (Okay, I know its unlikely that you're as excited as me, but just humor me!)

Now that you've watched the trailer and are eagerly awaiting Anna's story, I'm offering the first giveaway of my book. The winner of this giveaway will get a signed copy of the book sent to you as soon as I've got it in my hand.

There are a variety of ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment.
2. Follow me on blogger.
3. Follow me on facebook, networked blogs.
4. Go to the trailer on youtube and leave a comment.
5. Post this link to your blog. (can be done daily)
6. Post this link to your facebook. (can be done daily)
7. Twitter about this link. (can be done daily)

Be sure to leave a separate comment for each of the entries. As you can see, you have lots of chances to enter.

The giveaway will end on Friday, January 14 at noon, MST.

Good luck and thanks for coming to my blog and thanks for your help getting the word out about my book.

I Love...

I Love bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches and rocky road milk shakes. I ate a BLT and split a rocky road shake with Bruce yesterday while we were running 423 last-minute errands to get him ready to go.

I Love big, deep suitcases that make it possible to fit two years worth of necessities without having to wrestle the top closed.

I Love a stake president who says just the right things to inspire a 19-year old boy and comfort his family.

I Love family who made sure they got to see Bruce before he left, even if it was only for a few minutes.

I Love good friends who have made sure I know they're thinking about me and care about me when they know I'm barely holding it together.

I Love soft kleenex.

I Love my husband, who is so excited for the experience Bruce is going to have that he's having a hard time comprehending how much he's going to miss him.

I Love my other kids who cry and have minor melt-downs because they love their big brother and can't imagine him being gone.

I Love Taiwan because that's where he'll be and because he'll soon love it.

I Love that the same time that flew by and made this day come so soon will keep moving and will bring him home.

I Love the people who have loved and inspired Bruce.

I Love that the MTC did away with that brutal, two-hour heart-shredding that sends loved ones one way and missionaries another way.

I Love my Savior who is the reason for Bruce doing what he's doing.

I Love my Heavenly Father, who will watch over my boy while he's gone.

I Love Bruce and am pretty sure I'm sending almost six feet of my heart halfway around the world. And I didn't know my heart was that big.